Disclaimer: For some people gaming addiction is a serious, life-destroying issue. This post is written from the perspective of someone who enjoys video games but only lets it destroy him on weekends.
While there are a lot of video game franchises that I love, there are a few that are slightly more addicting, to say the least. Final Fantasy, Civilization, and Mass Effect are just a few examples of games that when left unchecked will result in me not leaving my house, or eating, or sleeping. Essentially these are the games that I love to the point of forgetting basic self-preservation instincts. While I definitely wouldn’t equate the experience to say what I assume a heroin addict might go through, starting a game of Civ 5 after breakfast and then realizing that it’s been 10 hours, and I haven’t eaten or showered isn’t a good thing. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better, but then Nintendo had to release a new Fire Emblem title that has been designed to keep me hooked. Oh, and the title itself is three separate 40+ hour games. Oh dear. I’m only 16 hours into the first one, but there is a chance that Fire Emblem Fates might kill me. But, I’m here to explain why it’s not a bad way to go. At this point, it’s the closest thing you’re going to get to a review.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Fire Emblem franchise, then you’re missing out. A tactical role-playing game that’s one of Nintendo’s core franchises, Fire Emblem tasks you with controlling an army of various units to defeat the enemy. Your army itself is made up of swordsmen, archers, mages, clerics, and occasionally dancers for some reason. Also, traditionally if a character died in battle, they’d be gone for good. Don’t get too attached. The franchise has introduced varying difficulty levels over the years, including the ability to turn off “perma-death”, as it’s become known in fan circles.
Originally known for it’s punishing difficulty and reliance on careful strategy, the franchise has evolved into a more story driven affair with drama, political intrigue, and trying to figure out which characters would make good children together. So while it might seem like the franchise is attempting to do too much at the same time, this odd hybrid of strategy meets dating simulator is what makes the games so much fun to play. This is especially the case with the last two titles in the franchise, the amazing Fire Emblem Awakening (which you should totally play if you haven’t), and the most recent title: Fire Emblem Fates.
Fire Emblem Fates itself is broken up into three separate games: Birthright and Conquest which are out now, and a DLC title called Revelations which will be out in March. Now unlike Pokemon where you get different versions of essentially the same game, all three are totally different experiences. The reason for the split is due to the story. The main character is a prince or princess of the nation of Hoshido (basically Japan) who was kidnapped as an infant and raised as a prince of rival kingdom Nohr (basically Europe). War breaks out between the two kingdoms, and our noble must pick a side. At this point is where Birthright and Conquest diverge, Birthright siding with Hoshido and Conquest siding with Nohr. Revelations will follow what happens if you side with neither, but as I’ve only been playing Birthright, I have a long way to go before I even think about exploring that branch of the story.
The core difference apart from allegiance is play style. While Birthright plays more like a traditional Fire Emblem title and is more forgiving when it comes to difficulty, Conquest is meant for more experienced players and is arguably the hardest of the three with its changes to franchise conventions. So while I did seriously consider playing Conquest first, the aesthetic and play style of Birthright appealed to me more. In short, I love it. Speaking about Fates in general, the title (titles?) has brought significant new features to the franchise that make it an excellent improvement over Awakening. Combat has been tweaked so that it adds a new level of challenge even to seasoned players, several new classes allow for even more customization of your army, and a new castle building feature makes time between battles more worthwhile. All in all, this results in a game that I have difficulty in putting down.
I still have a long way to go before I finish Birthright and move onto Conquest, and that’s if I can stop playing to remember to take care of myself. But if I do die it will be doing what I love, training an army of god-like warriors because I thought their parents looked good together.